MANILA, Philippines - Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos' bid to be released from detention suffered a hitch on Thursday after another court where he is facing a poll sabotage case delayed anew his petition for bail.
Abalos and his son, Benhur, did not finish the hearing before Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 112 Judge Jesus Mupas after the latter insisted on hearing the prosecution’s move to have a co-accused, Yogie Martirizar, turn state witness.
Abalos told reporters after leaving the proceedings that he could not anymore “continue hearing what will transpire in a sham proceeding.” He said it was a “grave injustice, masyadong garapal [brazen].”
He said Mupas was trying to “muddle” the issue by bringing to the witness stand Martirizar even if the issue at hand was his bail petition.
Abalos said the bail petition, filed in December, “should be taken as precedent above all issues.”
What Mupas wanted, he said, was to bring Martirizar into the proceedings and hear the petition to be discharged as a state witness.
Abalos said they had already agreed that Martirizar can be an ordinary witness. By becoming state witness, however, anything that Martirizar says on the witness stand can’t be used against her.
Abalos had filed cases against Martirizar while he was still poll chief.
This development means Abalos cannot be released yet from the the Southern Police District where he has been detained.
On Wednesday, another Pasay judge, Eugenio dela Cruz, granted his petition for bail because of the prosecution’s failure to present a star witness to implicate him in 11 counts of electoral sabotage.
“I can’t understand this procedure [at sala of Mupas]. Sa kabila [at dela Cruz’s sala], the judge said they could not discharge as witness [Lilian Radam],” Abalos added.
He said he will talk to his lawyers and discuss the filing of criminal charges against Mupas. “There’s such a thing as issuing an unjust interlocutory order. That’s a criminal offense.” -- with a report from Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News